budget friendly east coast road trip

Budget Friendly East Coast Road Trip: The Best Places To Visit

Most people like to take a break and get out of town at least once a year. 

But when planning a vacation, expenses can add up; especially if you plan on getting on a plane! Taking a road trip can be an economically sound alternative. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of places you can road trip to all over the United States. Here are a few you will want to check out if you are exploring the East Coast. 

Baltimore, Annapolis, MD and Washington, D.C. 

This three-city trip kicks off in Baltimore. The sea-scaped city is a great place to take in the National Aquarium and explore Fort McHenry (the stronghold of the War of 1812). Be sure to try some delicious Maryland crab cakes while you’re in town. 

Next, head over to the Chesapeake Bay to enjoy the picturesque views of Annapolis. You can take a cruise on the Harbor Queen, book a walking tour of the city it and dine in waterfront eateries. 

The nation’s capital makes a terrific last stop for some must see attractions like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and countless Smithsonian museums.

Hudson Valley

New Yorkers can take a quick trip out of town by driving about 150 miles north to Hudson Valley. This National Heritage area spans 10 counties and it’s a great place to learn about the Revolutionary War. On the way there, you can drive through small towns and farmlands that will really take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

Recommended stops along the way include Saint Paul’s Church in Mount Vernon and Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh. 

Spend some time in Coxsackie where you can explore the Bronck Museum and tour the well-preserved colonial Dutch houses and barns. Have some fun sampling wines produced in the country’s oldest region and be sure to check out the farm fresh local cuisine. 

The Lowcountry: Hilton Head, Beaufort and Charleston, South Carolina

The coastal plains of South Carolina are great for local seafood and outdoor activities. Hilton Head makes a terrific getaway as you can spend days lounging on its beaches. 

Then, make your way up to Beaufort where you can stay at historic Anchorage 1770. The inn is known for its amazing rooftop patio view. When you get hungry, head downtown to try the city’s many terrific restaurants.

Charleston is a great place to finish off this trip. It is known for its many fine eateries and lively cocktail bars. 

Boston to Portland, Maine

New England makes for a culturally rich road trip the whole family can enjoy. While in Boston, you can spend some time on the Freedom Trail, visit the New England Aquarium or take in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. You can’t leave town without eating a lobster roll, a classic new England favorite. 

On your way over to Maine, stop in Keenbunkport for a quick stroll through Dock Square. From there, culinary destinations await including the Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Essex Maine and the Eventide in Portland, a restaurant known for its brown butter steamed lobster roll. 

Conclude your trip with the Odyssey Whale Watch cruise in Casco Bay. 

Amelia Island to St. Augustine, Florida’s First Coast

Traveling these cities will allow you to explore the historic regions of northeast Florida. Start your journey on Amelia Island, a terrific beach destination. The barrier island is known for its amazing wildlife and natural beauty which is best experienced by traveling along its waterways. 

Achieve your goals by taking a tour with Backwater Cat Adventures, or by experiencing a sunset cruise with Amelia River Cruises. You can also hop on the ferry to view wild horses and take a tour of Cumberland Island, GA. 

Then make your way over to St. Augustine, America’s oldest city. It’s a great destination for historic sites and museums. 

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

This 140-mile region can be accessed by any number of iconic routes. The Blue Ridge Parkway extends from Afton to Natural Bridge while Skyline Drive cuts through Shenandoah National Park which offers 200,000 acres of nature, 500 miles of hiking trails and 75 scenic overlooks. 

 The valley is surrounded by the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains and it is full of awe-inspiring birds and wildlife, quaint mountain towns, craft breweries and local wineries. 

Pennsylvania’s Route 30

Philadelphia makes a great first stop on this road trip. Take in the city vibes before heading over to Lancaster. Once full of Amish farmland, the area has since updated to become home to numerous artists and artist galleries. Be sure to stop in for a bite at Luca for some great Italian food. 

Then, make your way over to Gettysburg making sure to take a break for a quick hike through Susquehannock State Park. Once in Gettysburg, you can tour the battlefield on horseback to explore Confederate Trails. The Federal Pointe Inn provides landmark lodging. 

Then head west to visit Fort Ligonier in the picturesque town of Ligonier. Ohiopyle State Park is a terrific next stop known for its 250 acres of pristine scenery and invigorating outdoor activities.

Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Kick off this road trip with a visit to Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore. After taking in the scenic views and wild ponies, head over to the quaint harbor town of Onancock. 

From there, you can hop a ferry to Tangier Island where you can take an eco-tour, kayak to a wild Atlantic barrier island, relax on the beach or spend a few days in Cape Charles. 

Miami to Key West Florida

These Florida hotspots are sure to make for an exciting road trip. 

After spending a couple of days in South Beach, you can make your way across the Florida Keys for one of the most scenic drives in the country. The Overseas Highway will take your through a 113-mile chain of lush islands and 42 bridges. Stop in any of the Keys for terrific fishing, invigorating outdoor sports and delicious seafood. 

When in Key Largo, you will want to make a stop in Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Then spend the night relaxing at the Cheeca Lodge in Islamadora before taking off to explore the lower Keys and Key West. 

Connecticut to Rhode Island

Another great way to see New England, this drive will take you through Connecticut’s beaches and state parks providing views of the cities of the Long Island Sound. 

Stop off at the Mystic Seaport, a seafaring village with a terrific maritime museum. Then go north towards Rhode Island to explore the Narragansett Bay coastline. 

A short ferry ride will take you to Block Island, a quaint town with magnificent mountain views. End your trip off right with a picturesque drive from South County to Blackstone Valley just north of Providence. 

Don’t let a tight budget keep you from getting out to see the country. These great road trips are all terrific ways to explore the East Coast. Which route will you be taking?